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“Ma Ni-san” Is My Name

Posted April. 29, 2005 23:47,   


Sin Eui-son, Lee Sung-nam, and Ma Ni-san.

“Son of the Wind,” Manici (32, Incheon United), a native of Serbia-Montenegro, will be reborn as a Korean, under the name of Ma Ni-san.

K-League’s Incheon United announced, “Manici’s application for naturalization was accepted, and we have received a letter notifying his acquirement of Korean citizenship,” on April 29. Manici has consequently become the fourth naturalized soccer player, following the footsteps of Sin Eui-son (Seoul FC, Russia) in 2000, Lee Sung-nam (Seongnam Ilhwa FC, Russia) in 2003, and (Seongnam Ilhwa FC, Croatia) in 2004.

Manici’s legal naturalization procedures will be finalized within six months, during which he is to submit to the Embassy of Serbia-Montenegro the necessary documents to renounce his present nationality. Incheon United FC gave Manici the Korean name of Ma Ni-san because of the resemblance his original name carries to that of Mt. Mani, located on Kanghwa Island.

A foreigner may apply for naturalization if he/she has lived in Korea for five years as an adult, and has the ability to support himself/herself. Manici, currently in his eighth season with the K-league, has all the necessary qualifications for naturalization.

Manici’s naturalization owes a lot to Incheon United FC chief Ahn Jong-bok (formerly the chief of Daewoo), who introduced him to the K-league in 1996, during his stay with the team of Busan Daewoo. It has been told that Ahn, with whom Manici maintains a brotherly relationship, asked Manici, “Having lived eight years in Korea now, isn’t it time you became a Korean?” Manici, a fan of kimchi and beanpaste pot stew with deep affections for Korea, joyfully agreed to naturalize. His wife (33) and their three daughters (Natalia•12, Catalina•9, Alexandra•7), are now near-Koreans.

Manici first came to Korea in 1996, and has piled up a career record 60 goals and 36 assists over the course of 194 games in eight seasons. In 1997, he led the team of Busan Daewoo when they clinched the crown in all of the tournaments they had entered. Manici’s naturalization has also widened the strategic options for Incheon United FC, as the club may now add another foreigner to its roster.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com